PCC, Scappoose schools at odds over tech program conflicts
A partnership between the Scappoose School District and Portland Community College intended to provide educational opportunities for students in manufacturing is not working as planned.
Scappoose Superintendent Paul Peterson gave a brief report to the Scappoose School Board on Monday, May 13, that painted a picture of what he described as a "deteriorating relationship" with PCC after plans for what the college was going to offer at the high school changed since an agreement was signed in 2017.
PCC officials say complications resulted from a complex process further convoluted by staffing changes for both entities, as well as the revised needs of industry partners involved in offering manufacturing apprenticeships and classes.
During a school board meeting earlier this year, a Scappoose alum raised concerns about an abundance of new machinery at the high school, including CNC machines, lathes, drill presses, arc welders and other equipment, that was inoperable due to missing parts or other issues.
Last summer, the school district made more than $130,000 in improvements to the high school's metal shop to accommodate the new machinery, Peterson explained. With the anticipation of being able to offer a range of new career and technical education classes using the machinery, the district hired a new staff member and students signed up for expected courses planned for fall and
Those classes were later canceled because the equipment was not ready.
"PCC's clear failure to deliver on its portion of the agreement has become a public relations problem, frankly, for the district," Peterson said Monday night. "And the administration and staff at the high school have grown weary of trusting PCC. So the value for students also to earn dual credit is forever lost, also."
Kate Chester, PCC's director of public relations and community engagement, said the intent was to offer classes for the fall 2018-19 school year, but because of a series of unforeseen delays, it did not happen.
From 2017 to present, the Scappoose School District has been under the leadership of three different superintendents, and is expecting a fourth to start in July. The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center also had training program coordinator staffing changes, further complicating the issue, she explained.
Additional complications came from the involvement of industry partners and the need to purchase appropriate equipment, as well as identifying additional space at the school for the equipment, she added.
"Since the program is tied to industry apprenticeships, equipment purchases changed based on the needs of industry partners supporting the program," Chester stated in part by email.
The college is expected to have all equipment currently at the high school fully operation by July 1, Chester said.
PCC is also currently pursuing construction of an educational facility in Scappoose that could be used to offer training classes in conjunction with OMIC. PCC is expecting to offer classes in fall 2020, at which time equipment housed at Scappoose will be moved, Chester explained. Until that time, the equipment will remain on loan to the high school to use for classes.
Current contracts between the high school and PCC will expire at the end of June. Peterson said he is planning to draft new multi-year agreements for approval which would address some of the issues, including terms about use of the equipment and a long-term plan for its use in the school.
If agreed upon terms cannot be reached, Peterson recommended giving PCC notice to remove equipment or require the college to lease stor-
age space from the school district.
"The original aspiration of all this was tremendous, but there it really takes commitment from all sides," Peterson said.
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